This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of supplementation of Wakame seaweed stalks on the immunity and intestinal microflora of pigs. Three separate experiments were performed: Relatively young (start at 20–30 kg; Experiments 1 and 2) and fattening period (70 kg; Experiment 3). All pigs (including the control group) were fed the same commercial feed, free from antibiotic additives, but in the feed for the treatment groups, 1% seaweed powder was added. There were no group differences observed in daily weight gain and feed intake in Experiments 1 and 2 between groups; however, daily weight gain was significantly higher in the treatment group compared to the control group in Experiment 3. The percentage of peripheral blood natural killer cells of the treatment group was significantly higher than that of the control group in all experiments. Although addition of seaweed changed the gene expression of cytokine and toll-like receptors of the small intestinal Peyer's patches slightly, seaweed seems to alter intestinal microflora preferentially, for instance, there was an increase in Lactobacillus and a decrease of Escherichia coli observed. These results suggest that Wakame seaweed can be used as supplement for pig feed to improve the gut health and immunity of pigs.
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